Tuesday, May 01, 2012
Napa Valley is all about food and wine. And, for the connoisseur, the three-day Auction Napa Valley extravaganza is a unique opportunity to do good while imbibing with abandon. The annual event, which began in 1981, has raised more than US$100 million for charitable non-profits. Beginning on May 31, the festivities take place at a number of Napa's finest wineries and resorts, including Jarvis Winery and Meadowood. The bucolic region is home to palatial wineries, elegant inns and much more. Napa is the Holy Grail for cult cabernet seekers who converge at the auction to savour prestigious wines including Harlan, Colgin, Staglin, Screaming Eagle, Opus One, Revana and Araujo. Hong Kong Tatler meets some of the region's top names and, along the way, learns why Michael Mondavi winemakers are like nannies, why Ann Colgin believes a good wine should thrill like a lover, and why Heidi Barrett's most prized bottle landed her in hospital.
Ann Colgin - Colgin Cellars
A former Sotheby's consultant, Ann Colgin's passion for art is reflected in her wines. Joined by her husband, Joe Wender, and winemaker Allison Tauziet, Colgin produces "neo-classical" cult wines. The winery is best known for its Tychson Hill Vineyard cabernet sauvignon, its Cariad blend of reds, and its IX Estate Syrah.
HKT: What's your favorite wine region? AC: Napa Valley, of course. It has a proven track record for first-growth vineyards. Before getting into the wine business, I had been to Napa, then attended the wine auction in 1988. I met many dedicated people who knew that the unique nature of Napa could produce some of the best wines in the world. Burgundy is a close second.
HKT: How do you deal with difficult vintages? AC: We're very fortunate to own some very consistent vineyard properties such as IX Estate. We were thrilled to have received 100-point Parker scores for the IX Estate Red for the 2006 and 2007 vintages, which happened to be very different growing seasons. Generally, if we have a difficult season, the result is a smaller production.
HKT: If your wine were a person, who would it be? AC: Johnny Depp. He's alluring, mysterious, layered and has a great sense of fun and excitement. He's an American with French sensibilities - handsome, sexy and ageing very well.
HKT: Are there any unique challenges you've had to face as a female vintner? AC: Actually, being a woman has been an asset. Studies have shown that women have more sensitive noses than men. Women are also nurturing, patient and detail-oriented - all important qualities in winemaking.
HKT: What are the most prized bottles in your cellar? AC: Some favourites are a magnum of 1961 Château Latour, a magnum of 1985 Léoville Las Cases (which we served at our wedding) and a 1935 Simi cabernet - who says California wines can't age?
HKT: How about your best meal ever? AC: In the late 1990s, Thomas Keller invited a few investors and friends for Thanksgiving at The French Laundry. I watched Thomas personally carve our turkey and we sipped 1959 La Tâche. Later he sent us home with some of the best Thanksgiving leftovers ever.
HKT: Why is wine so closely linked to romance? AC: Drinking a great wine is a sensual experience, like being a lover. There's the anticipation as you hear the cork being removed. You touch the glass, feeling the temperature, and swirl the wine to aerate it. You see the color and depth. You take in the aromas, and then you taste. A great wine keeps you wanting to go back for more, and the finish should linger, giving you lasting pleasure.